What do you shoot with?

Yesterday a friend showed me a FStoppers video where Lee Morris makes a whole photo shoot with an iPhone, instead of a DSLR. Not really going into the merit of the video, Lee loves to create polemics everywhere, but into this concept.

Do we need a DSLR???

Do we need a DSLR???

The same way that is the cook that makes the food not the pans, is the photographer and not the camera. They (pans and cameras) are tools! The art happens inside the artist’s mind.

Give Joe McNally a smartphone and you’ll have a great picture and give a layman a top camera and you’ll still won’t have something to work with. Lee’s video (see below) just proves that, in my opinion. He mentions that “with a phone he can make better images that the majority of what is seen online”, and with the amount of bad images online nowadays, this should not be very hard for a professional like him :-)

The other side of the same coin is that there’s a proper tool for each task. It’s probably pretty hard to make soup in a frying pan.

To shoot sports, for example, you need a fast lens and a camera with a high frames per second rate. The fast lens will give you a fast shutter speed that freezes the action, even indoors, and gives you this subject-background separation so that you can clearly see what the image is about. The high frames rate will allow you to burst shoot and make sure you don’t miss the “peak of the action”. With a camera with a slow frame rate (not even saying with a phone) capturing the best moment becomes a matter of luck. It can be done, but not always. Using a slow lens will not blurry the background enough to make your subject pop. This nice shallow depth of field without the proper lens … not going to happen.

Same applies to shooting a wedding, a low light situation, without the proper equipment (fast lens, low noise camera), just doesn’t happen properly. Even worse if you need to trigger strobes, for example. Surely not feasible with a phone. Even an environmental portrait, a fast lens makes all the difference to get rid of the details in the background.

Just some of examples where the gear is part of what you want as final result.

Also the appearance for the job. For the client, your gear is as important as your clothes when you show up for a gig. It sells your image and gives security to the customer about the quality of your work, even if only a psychological effect. Show up with a smartphone to shoot a wedding, even if it’s a magical one, it won’t save you from the bridezilla.

Smartphones, though, have pretty much killed point-and-shoot cameras. You barely see one in the streets anymore.

I’m pretty happy with my DSLR and lenses, despite using more and more the phone for social media stuff.

And you? What do you shoot with?

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What have you been reading?

I have always been around books. My father always had a big library at home and in a research career you constantly need to read plenty of science papers.


Professionally, since I drifted away from research, it’s not different: database, software development, management or project management, they all require a lot of reading.

When I want to learn something, I study it. It’s like this professionally, it was like that with cycling and photography was no exception.

Nowadays the Internet provides you with a ton of good information. It’s actually difficult to read all the interesting content and still read something else.

On general photography my suggestions are the following:

Light Stalking
Photography Life
Photo Focus

Then comes specific sites. In this area I like a lot one about Lightroom. Lightroom is 90-95% of my workflow, so it deserves some special love.

Lightroom Killer Tips

On people sharing their experiences I follow a couple of blogs like:

Joe McNally
Scott Kelby
Frank Doorhof
David Hobby (The Strobist)

I compile the interesting part in a Cris da Rocha’s Photography News – Flipboard magazine. Also follow a couple of magazines in Flipboard :-)

Then comes the books. I like reading hardcopies. Call me old school, I call myself vintage hehehehehe But I’m surrendering to the electronic formats. It’s much easier. I’m basically aways reading 2 or 3 books at he same time.

At the moment I have in my night table “50 portraits“, from Gregory Heisler, over my night table. Not in a hurry to finish it. Fantastic book. To enjoy each page. In the iPad I have “The moment it clicks“, from Joe McNally, very similar to Heisler’s. Also to enjoy each page. And I’m always either with a more technical book, the Photoshop User Magazine or a photography one around.

At the moment I’m reading online Scott Kelby’s new book “How do I do that in Lightroom“. It’s and Lightroom advanced cookbook and Scott has made the whole book available in the web (for limited time). The book is great and I want it in hardcopy. Just waiting for and opportunity to get it.

That’s a lot of material. If made good use can be very helpful.

And you? What have you been reading?

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Dehaze it or not

First of all, good news, my coffee machine is out of its comma! A couple of pieces changed, some bill to pay, and it’s back! Alive and kicking!

Corcovado (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in a day with low clouds. Final image with Lightroom CC (Photo: Cris da Rocha)

Corcovado (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in a day with low clouds. Final image with Lightroom CC (Photo: Cris da Rocha)

Last vacations we travelled to Brazil to visit the family and took the little time left to see some landmarks like the Christ on top of the Corcovado. Nice way up with the train (had only done by car before), but the day had low clouds, so the visibility of the city from atop was poor, moreover, the visibility of the statue itself was poor, since we were literally IN the cloud.

We tried to take shots of the family between openings in the clouds and I took some shots of the statue, within some clouds …

One of the new things of Lightroom CC that people are really talking about is the “dehaze” tool. A tool meant to reduce haze from images. Some people used it in extremely “hazy” images and the results were impressive, so I tried on one of the shots and I was very impressed by the results.

First the original cloudy shot to be dehazed.

Corcovado (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in a day with low clouds. (Photo: Cris da Rocha)

Corcovado (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in a day with low clouds. (Photo: Cris da Rocha)

Then I applied quite an amount of dehazing (+68) to actually remove some of the clouds.

Corcovado (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in a day with low clouds, applying Lightroom CC Dehaze tool heavily. (Photo: Cris da Rocha)

Corcovado (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in a day with low clouds, applying Lightroom CC Dehaze tool heavily. (Photo: Cris da Rocha)

The dehaze tool, in my experience, seems to make everything a bit blue, too blue. So reducing saturation/vibrance helps make things a bit more real. After that, a little bit of Lightroom love (contrast, whites and blacks, exposure) and we have at the top of the post.

Not bad! Before this tool this kind of image would be very hard to work with, probably would end up rejected. Now we can do something with it. I have also used for beach shots with hills as background and the result adds a nice touch to the image, removing part of the sea haze.

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Going mobile?

Nowadays we all have the need to share our images online. Either because we want, or because we’re wanted.

Corcovado from the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas - Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Corcovado from the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas – Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil (Photo by Cris da Rocha)

Facebook, Google+, Instagram … all can be shared from our mobiles, which, by the way, have better and better cameras.

In my case, on the other hand, I shoot raw. Convince Jared Polin (the Fro) to change and then I’ll think about it. It’s not practical for sharing purposes.

Family and friends want to see us on Facebook as it happens and I can’t process my DSLR images that fast, just don’t have the time. My workflow is a bit heavier than that. Get the card, back it up, import into Lightroom, select the keepers, process them to finally export and share, takes a bit longer than this “customer” requires.

Tabatinga  beach - Caraguatatuba, SP, Brazil

Tabatinga beach – Caraguatatuba, SP, Brazil (Photo by Cris da Rocha)

I recently caught myself taking my family shots on the street with my DSLR and a couple of them with my phone. Even more when traveling on vacations, when I don’t intend to take enough computing power to download and process anything.

The phone brought in a very simplified workflow, which I extensively applied in this recent DSLR-free vacation. Go somewhere nice, take nice simple shots with the phone, process them on Snapseed (of course I need to make my phone photography look its best) and share them, killing friends with envy.

Camboinhas beach - Niteroi, RJ, Brazil

Camboinhas beach – Niteroi, RJ, Brazil (Photo by Cris da Rocha)

After you have the current events shared with your public, just try not to take more than one year to send your sister-in-law last Christmas’ pictures, otherwise they will start complaining again :-)

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Fear for the gear – part 2

Once again we are flying to Brazil on vacations. Now in the European summer, due to constraints on school vacations (2 weeks winter vacations are not enough to cross the ocean :-) ).

Bird eye view of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (photo from totaldecadence.com).

Bird eye view of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (photo from totaldecadence.com).

I’m even repeating the same beautiful image of the previous post :-)

Didn’t have bad experiences in previous years, but didn’t have a relaxed experience either. Pretty much using the dSLR at the families’ houses and in closed environments. Not really useful, at the end.

Whenever I had to go on the street I carried a small point and shoot, that fits in my pocket and is quite inexpensive. So I can go more relaxed and more inconspicuous. Together with that, the violence situation in Brazil didn’t improve, exactly the opposite.

Well! This time I decided to leave the dSLR at home and take just the point and shoot. Last time I even managed to do some HDR with it. It’s harder (you have to exposure compensate by hand without the proper knobs), it’s JPG, but the results are not bad.

On top of not having to worry about the camera itself, I’ll spare myself some weight (not the camara’s) and some possible headaches.

If I’m not taking the dSLR, I don’t have to take a laptop to store the images. So I travel way lighter. The images from the point and shoot are JPG, so way smaller than the 25-30MB per image of the dSLR in RAW. Not enough memory cards and backup solutions ;-)

Also I save time in customs. When you’re a foreigner coming to Brazil, you can bring your camera, laptop, … with problems. When you’re a Brazilian living abroad, same rules apply, but you really have to make that clear to the custom officers, otherwise you’ll be charged import taxes on your gear. I just don’t want to go through that. So no dSLR, no laptop, no headaches, though, no good pictures either.

Sad decision, but it’s vacations and I really need to rest and spend time with our families! :-)

Also sad news on the coffee side of life! My espresso machine is in a comma!!!! Let’s see what could be done when I’m back!!

This blog will be back in September, after the summer!!

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